How to Start an Urban Garden: 15 Small Gardening Ideas

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Do you live in a city or in a town where old homes are now apartments? If you’re a budding green thumb, you may think you have to wait until you buy a house before you can start gardening. But that isn’t true.

Enter urban gardening, where you make the most of the small spaces you have and turn them into an oasis for you and your guests.

Urban Garden

15 Urban Gardening Ideas

When it comes to city garden ideas, you must first think about growing vertically. Growing plants vertically includes using espaliers, railings, and pocket gardens that line a wall and grow upward.

Here are some other urban gardening ideas that incorporate vertical growth, as well as containers, and other small garden techniques:

1.  Living walls: Again, think of planting vertically when transforming a small apartment balcony into an outdoor living space. Fill living walls with succulents, ferns, and other tiny green plants that can handle dry spells. If designed well, your living wall can be an accent wall.

2.  Privacy: You want to make sure you have adequate privacy from the busy streets and nosey neighbors. Vines, shrubs, and your living wall make your backyard retreat private.

3.  Outdoor lighting: You can string lights overhead or along railings to enjoy your urban backyard at night. Not only does lighting add ambiance, but it allows you to enjoy your outdoor space later into the season.

4.  Spacing: While you want to grow your plants together, measure empty spaces to ensure that a shrub or perennial will grow into that space. Most plants will have tags stating the height and width of the plant at maturity.

5.  Rinse and repeat: Repeat some plantings throughout your urban garden to bridge plants and spaces together. Don’t overdo it, though—three times for repeat plantings is enough for small spots.

6.  Raised beds: Include raised beds for growing tomatoes, lettuce, and ornamental plants. The beds provide a border as well make them easy to care for during the season.

7.  Recognizing roses: Buy roses that bloom up to five times per season. You can control how large your rose bushes will spread out at maturity by cutting stems at the plant’s base. Roses provide charm, color, and fragrance to your city garden.

8.  Be Pollinator-friendly: Invite birds, bees, and butterflies to your urban garden by planting pollinator-friendly plants, such as butterfly bush, asters, cardinal flowers, and yarrow. Also, add a small window birdfeeder and a tiny birdbath so pollinators have something to drink.

9.  Container gardening: When you design your urban backyard, you want to add lots of containers. You can stack whiskey barrels for a layered look, and repurpose tins for whimsical herb containers. Always make sure your containers have a hole in the bottom for water to drain.

10.  Sun and shade: A basic rule of gardening—put plants that want full sun in sunny spots and plants that love the shade in shady spots.

Otherwise, you’re going to have a lot of unsightly plants. Read the tags on plants in your local garden center to see what their preference is for light.

11.  Dwarf varieties: Since city gardening is gaining traction, many nurseries started carrying dwarf varieties for small spaces. You can buy dwarf tomatoes, evergreens, and fruit trees. These dwarf varieties help draw the eye up, giving your small outdoor rooms more vertical lines as well as producing fruit and vegetables.

12.  Window boxes: If you’re an apartment dweller, you may not have a balcony or patio. Instead, use window boxes. You can fill them with lettuces, strawberries, and other low-growing produce. Ensure that you keep them well-watered (without drowning them) and that the boxes have ways to drain water.

13.  Vines: Again, another way to grow vertically, vines can attach to a trellis that you add to your balcony or patio. Vines also provide privacy and attract pollinators when they blossom.

14.  Layering: When you design your urban backyard or balcony, make sure you layer your plants, whether that’s with vines, espaliers, ornamental trees, and shrubs, as well as using plant stands of varying sizes. Get creative and use other ways of layering, including crates and low benches.

15.  Patio accessories: Add to your urban backyard design by painting outdoor furniture in bright colors to complement or contrast your plants. Use outdoor pillows, throws, and cushions to give a summery feel to your small outdoor space.

Don’t forget to learn more about potting soil and plant fertilizer. and both have urban gardening ideas online. Take the time to learn more about gardening in small spaces and the plants that grow well in tiny areas and containers.

Meeting Your Plants’ Watering Needs

All plants need moisture to live. However, most plants hate wet feet, where they sit in water for hours. So you need to make sure you properly water your backyard plants when they need it, and that excess water can drain properly.

There are many options for properly watering your urban garden, including using watering cans, wand hose handles, and terracotta watering spikes.

However, some plants need more consistent, early morning irrigation. Enter driplines. Driplines emit water slowly and with bigger droplets into the root zones of plants.

Additionally, plants in container gardens and window boxes in full sun will dry out faster than raised beds and shady areas. Driplines make the perfect addition to your gardening arsenal to keep those plants well-watered.

At K-Rain, we provide driplines that meet every garden size. You can buy your K-Rain dripline parts at our online store or your favorite big-box retailer.

If you have any questions about your K-Rain outdoor dripline products, call our customer service at 800-735-7246 or fill out our contact form.

Sources:, “5 Lessons from a Small Urban Garden.”

Ibid, “Small Backyard Makeover: Using Every Square Inch.”, “Small Space Gardening: Tips for Apartment Dwellers and Urbanites.”, “10 Native Pollinator Plants for Containers.”